China Daily

Asia> Asia News> Content
Thursday, September 14, 2017, 22:38
Japan's refueling of US warships sparks controversy
By Xinhua
Thursday, September 14, 2017, 22:38 By Xinhua

This US Navy handout photo obtained July 18, 2017 shows the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz as it leads a formation of ships from the Indian navy, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) and the US Navy on July 17, 2017 in the Bay of Bengal as part of Exercise Malabar 2017. Sources in Japan’s defense ministry sources said on Sept 14, 2017 the MSDF has been involved in refueling US warships in the Sea of Japan under new controversial security laws. (COLE SCHROEDER / NAVY OFFICE OF INFORMATION / AFP)

TOKYO – Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) has been involved in refueling US warships in the Sea of Japan under new controversial security laws that came into effect last year, defense ministry sources said Thursday.

According to Kyodo News, a government source confirmed that MSDF supply ships have conducted multiple refueling missions since April to US Aegis ships in the Sea of Japan, marking the second time Japan's MSDF has carried out expanded operations under the new security laws.

The new security legislation allows more flexibility to the MSDF, such as providing supplies, including oil, to US warships conducting operations in the region

In May, the defense ministry said a Japanese destroyer escorted a US naval vessel, marking the first time that such a mission had been carried out under the new contentious legislation.

The new security legislation allows more flexibility to the MSDF, such as providing supplies, including oil, to US warships conducting operations in the region.

The legislation also applies to Japan's wider Self-Defense Forces (SDF) as part of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's administration’s push to broaden Japan's international military footprint.

The security legislation and the government's moves to bolster the SDF's presence on a global stage have been widely criticized at home and abroad as these run contrary to Japan's postwar commitment to pacifism and the constitution that ensures it.  

The new security laws broadening the operational scope of the SDF came into effect last March, triggering nationwide protests slamming the Japanese government for circumnavigating the constitution.

The general public, citizens' groups, legal bodies and scholars lambasted the Abe administration for forcing the necessary bills through both chambers of parliament and into law using the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's (LDP) overwhelming majority.

In April last year, a revised agreement between Japan and the United States came into effect on logistical cooperation between the two countries' forces as part of the new broader security laws.

Prior to the enactment of the new laws, the SDF was limited to refueling US warships only during joint Japan-US exercises and on other restricted occasions requiring the enactment of a special law.

Japan's top government spokesperson Yoshihide Suga on Thursday told a regular press briefing that SDF personnel have been involved in providing supplies to the US military. He however did not provide any details.

ALSO READ: Japan defense document maligns China's maritime activities

"I cannot comment on the issue because it will unveil the details of the operations of the SDF and the US military," Suga was quoted as saying.

Such military-related recent moves by Japan, including the defense ministry's recent record budget request for Fiscal Year 2018, with allocations for a plethora of next-generation military hardware, have unsettled the public here.

Along with the majority of the public here widely opposed to Abe's plans to revise Japan's war-renouncing constitution, Japan's closest neighbors who suffered terribly at the hands of its past militarism are also concerned about Japan's bolstering of the nation's military forces and expanded operational maneuvers.

Political and defense analysts here have also stated that Abe, who is steadily working toward his career goal of ultimately revising a key clause of Japan's constitution that outlaws using war as a means to settle international disputes and prohibits armed forces with war potential being maintained, is intentionally thwarting the nation's Supreme Law.

Along with the majority of the public here widely opposed to Abe's plans to revise Japan's war-renouncing constitution, Japan's closest neighbors who suffered terribly at the hands of its past militarism are also concerned about Japan's bolstering of the nation's military forces and expanded operational maneuvers.

Such moves are not only in direct contravention of Japan's constitution, they also threaten to further strain regional ties and have the potential to severely disrupt regional peace and security, said local and regional experts.

Share this story